This Month’s Literacy Changemakers
Please join us at the CLA Confab with presentations from two incredible member organizations: Empower LD and the Schuler Scholar Program.
EmpowerLD is nonprofit corporation that exists to inform and educate the larger public on the nature of learning differences, including the social and emotional impacts. EmpowerLD aims to provide practical, applicable, and actionable information to teachers, parents, students, and professionals so that individuals with learning differences can be fully appreciated and empowered to meet their full potential. Laura J. Thompson, AM, LCSW and Melodee A. Walker, Ph.D. will present on their behalf.
Laura J. Thompson, AM, LCSW
A.M., Social Work
Laura is a native of Illinois. She earned a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1996, followed by a Master’s in Social Work at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. In graduate school, Laura focused on clinical and school social work, which led her to internships in schools in the northern suburbs and the west side of Chicago. Working extensively with students with severe emotional, behavioral and learning disorders helped her to understand the social and emotional impacts of living with learning challenges. Laura joined the Hyde Park Day School, a school for bright kids with learning challenges in 2000 and remained there until opening her private practice in 2010.
Melodee A. Walker, Ph.D.
B.A., Elementary Education, Reading Endorsement, University of Northern Iowa
M.Ed., Learning Disabilities (K-12), Calvin College
Ph.D., Special Education, Learning Disabilities and Behavior Disorders, University of Texas
During her doctoral studies, Melodee served on grant-funded research teams at the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk at the University of Texas examining the impact of multi-component reading interventions, as well as investigating systems and programs as they relate to improved outcomes for students with disabilities across the nation. She also participated in the preparation of preservice special education teachers as an adjunct professor at Texas State University. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, Melodee was a teacher in general and special education classrooms across diverse settings for eleven years. She has also worked in the private sector providing remediation, evaluation, consulting, and advocacy services for students with learning differences. Her primary research interests include dyslexia, effective reading instruction for students with reading difficulties, schooling practices, and observation studies, with an eye toward increasing the alignment of prevailing practices with research-based instructional practices.
The Schuler Scholar Program supports high-potential youth to gain access to and succeed at selective colleges. The Schuler Scholar Program believes if students are motivated, have access to academic and enrichment programs while in high school, are well-informed of college options, receive support from a wide network, and secure financial assistance that they will have a better opportunity to attend the college of their dreams. Kareem Mohammad will discuss their work.
Reading Program Associate
Kareem joined the Schuler Scholar Program in July 2015 as an AmeriCorps Scholar Coach serving Maine Township High School East. Kareem has earned bachelor of arts degrees in Psychology and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago. As an advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, he uses his knowledge and experience to create diverse and inclusive programs.
As the Reading Program Associate for the Southern region, Kareem collaborates with school staff to customize in school and after school programs, providing thoughtful feedback, in an effort to create innovative curriculums. Kareem lives in the city and in his spare time collects manga (Japanese comics).
After their presentations, attendees will have the opportunity to make announcements and chat with fellow literacy advocates. RSVP today!
Thank a Teacher
Whether it’s your child’s favorite teacher or a special educator in your own life, if you’re looking for an easy (but thoughtful!) way to convey your appreciation for the awesome teacher in your life, look no further! Just click, download, and print one of the customizable appreciation certificates below:
“I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. It might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” – John Steinbeck
“A teacher is a compass that activates the magnets of curiosity, knowledge, and wisdom in the pupils.” – Ever Garrison
“Education is not filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” – William Butler Yeats
“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” – B.B. King
Creating a Home for Writers
Photo Credit Fred Beuttler
We are thrilled to have the University of Chicago Writer’s Studio as a new CLA member! We caught up with their amazing Program Manager, Gina DiPonio, to learn more about their organization, how they hope to work with fellow CLA members, and more.
Tell us a little bit about the University of Chicago Writer’s Studio mission.
The University of Chicago Writer’s Studio strives to be a creative home to writers of all genres and ambitions. We offer noncredit, open-to-all classes, which are mostly downtown, and free events around town including our annual Business of Writing Seminar, semi-quarterly open house/open mics, and regular write-ins. We want to help their students and greater community live the writing lives they imagine (and have fun doing it!).
Why did you decide to join the Chicago Literacy Alliance?
We’re honored to take part in the Chicago Literacy Alliance and connect to so many meaningful, innovative organizations/programs. We know the importance of being an active part of the Chicago literary community and are excited to share ideas and resources as well as create collaborations with other member organizations. Bottom line: The CLA is amazing.
Is there anything you wish more people knew about the University of Chicago Writer’s Studio?
Sometimes people miss the fact that we aren’t in Hyde Park. Our classes and programs are mostly downtown and online. Also, I want to make sure that everyone knows that anyone (over 18) can register for our classes and events. There’s no admission process. That’s what we mean when we say we’re open to all. Finally, I want people to know that we are flexible and eager to try new things. I always tell students that if they wish we were offering or doing something differently, just let me know. We do our best to create the classes, events, and opportunities that our community needs.
What events or programs are you excited about?
This June, we have two events lined up, both of which are free. We’ll be at Printers Row Lit Fest on the afternoon of Sunday, June 10, where our instructors will be presenting three creative-writing mini-lessons (exact time and title TBD). The next weekend, we’re holding a Writer’s Studio Write-In at Gleacher Center, our home base. We’ll be announcing this event and making registration available soon. These always fill up quickly, so please be sure to register early if you’d like to attend.
We’re so excited that in addition to becoming a member, the Writer’s Studio is also becoming a CLA Resource Partner. What are you providing members and what do you hope they’ll gain from the offering?
We’re offering CLA members a 20% discount on all of our classes. We hope that this will help anyone in the CLA who wants to practice or study creative or professional writing do so. Also, we are looking forward to creating programs that hold several spots exclusively for CLA members.
How are you hoping to collaborate with fellow CLA members?
There are so many ways to collaborate, and there is so much to learn! To start, we’re interested in learning more about how to further encourage diversity in our classrooms in terms of student body, especially, as well as faculty, course content, and pedagogy. We’re also eager to devise events with member organizations, which might include co-hosting a reading, panel or open mic (or something else!). In terms of expertise, our instructors are creative pros and we, as a team, bring a great deal of knowledge and ability in terms of creative and professional writing, writing pedagogy, and the publishing world. We’re happy to share that!
Wednesday | April 18 | 9AM
Please join us at the CLA Confab with presentations from two incredible member organizations: Pangea Educational Development and Literacy Volunteers of Illinois. Looking for a mini-preview of what you can expect? Learn more about our two speakers this month below!
Dorothy M. Miaso is the Executive Director of the Literacy Volunteers of Illinois, a position she has held since 1992. In her work with the Literacy Volunteers she has been involved with a variety of literacy and national service-related initiatives at the local, state and national levels, and has been involved with correctional education for adults and juvenile at the state and county levels. Prior to joining the Literacy Volunteers, Miaso served in various capacities in the public sector in government and not-for-profit agencies. She served as the Assistant Director of Operation ABLE, a non-profit Chicago-based employment program for older workers, and, as the Director of Senior Programs in the Governor and Lt. Governor’s offices. She also worked for the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Miaso is a past member of the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service (who recently named an award after her)and a past board member of the American Association of State Service Commissions, a national organization that provides leadership and support to state volunteer service commissions throughout the country. She is a member of the Illinois Adult and Continuing Educators Association and the Illinois Conference on Volunteer Administration. Miaso holds a B.A. degree in English/Education from Northeastern Illinois University and a Master’s in Management of Public Service from DePaul University.
Literacy Volunteers of Illinois is a statewide organization committed to developing and supporting volunteer literacy programs that help families, adults and out-of-school teens increase their literacy skills.
Drew Edwards is the Co-Founder and CEO of Pangea Educational Development. He is a research fellow for education in conflict & emergency situations with the Qatar Foundation and has been living and working in Uganda for 7 years. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from DePaul University and is currently a graduate student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Pangea Educational Development is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering schools and unifying communities through sustainable education. Founded in 2011, PED partners with schools in Uganda through three phrases to jointly identify problems, map and implement sustainable projects, and equip them with the tools to manage their program in the future.
Excited to hear more, checking out the Literacenter, and networking with fellow literacy advocates? Join us on April 18th!